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iWantGreatCare and patient experience in the USA

June 11, 2012

I spent last week in Washington as part of the bilateral symposium between the US and UK Health Departments. It was energising to a) meet so many great, inspired and energetic colleagues, and b) to see patient experience acknowledged across the health systems of both countries as an absolute driver of quality across healthcare.

In a trip of many highlights, the most important aspect for me  – as both a clinician and entrepreneur – was the fact that patient experience is now viewed on both sides of the Atlantic as so much more than a “soft” add on to the more traditional attempts to monitor quality, and is fully recognised as core to any approach to measure and improve quality.

Out-dated, centrally-led attempts to measure experience have been proven again and again not to work (this will be powerfully, and tragically, illustrated once more when the Francis report into Mid-Staffs is published) – and both the US and UK teams argued consistently for the introduction of independent, transparent approaches to measuring and openly sharing patient experience as a fundamental metric of quality. These concepts are embedded in the ongoing work streams and will, I believe, increase yet further the importance of real-time patient experience to all who plan or deliver care.

Of course the UK Department of Health has set out its position clearly on this, stating in last month’s Information Strategy that NHS Choices will cease to collect patient experience feedback from 2013, rather working with independent providers to deliver such a specialised service. Such government-industry collaboration mirrored the approach of the US team which strives always to provide the context, data and space needed to allow entrepreneurs to rapidly create the kind of modern services and approach that consumers expect from other sectors. It was inspiring to see so many examples where this works well in the States, and how this has enabled a whole host of new services and solutions to improve care and drive down costs – virtually none of which has been produced by the Government itself.

I am quite sure that as the DH/NHS releases more and more health data, the UK community of programmers, developers and innovators will rise to the challenge, delivering a whole range of fantastic solutions at a pace and scale that the can never be achieved by the larger state organisations.

Huge thanks to Mark Davies at the HSCIC for inviting me to be a member of the UK delegation, and to the members of the UK team who were not only great company, but whose insights, ideas and challenges made the trip such a success.


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